This blog is hosted on Ideas on EuropeIdeas on Europe Avatar

Five Things You Need to Know About Brexit

Ahead of the University of Edinburgh’s free online course Towards Brexit? The UK’s EU Referendum and one month before the referendum, here are five things you need to know about the Brexit debate:

1. We’ve been here before

In 1975, the UK held its first-ever nationwide referendum on whether to stay in the European Economic Community (the precursor to the EU). The result was a two-thirds majority in favour of remaining in the Common Market. That said, it’s very unusual for a country to hold a vote directly on the question of EU membership. Most past referendums on the EU in member states have been about ratifying new treaties.

2. The UK’s not so different

Over the years, the difficult relationship between the UK and the EU has become legendary. For instance, it has opt-outs from a number of European policies, like the euro or borderless travel (Schengen). This reputation can sometimes give the impression that the UK is particularly alone or different. However, that’s not really the case. In reality, every member has its own issues with the EU – some are just more obvious than others.

3. Global interest is high

Although the referendum will be decided by UK voters, many countries, along with companies and organisations around the world, have a substantial interest in the outcome. For this reason, a number have broken with the convention of not engaging in a country’s internal debates and have expressed their views on the UK’s EU membership. However, it’s not clear what impact these interventions actually have on public opinion.

4. The facts? It’s not as easy as that

The EU can be quite complicated and the referendum debate has featured topics such as the economy, migration, security and democracy. Many people will be looking for information before the vote. However, most of the questions around these issues come down to personal opinion, rather than factual answers. While facts and evidence do naturally exist, they can only inform. In the end, voters will have to make up their own minds on whether EU membership is worthwhile or not.

5. The referendum won’t end the debate

This June’s vote is just the latest landmark in the UK’s history with the European Union. Whatever the outcome on 23 June, the referendum won’t settle the issue. If the result is to leave, the negotiations that follow will focus on what kind of relationship the UK will have with the EU going forward. If the result is to remain, the debate on EU membership will continue and calls for a second referendum will likely materialise. Either way, the saga will carry on.

Find out more – join the free online course: 
Towards Brexit? The UK’s EU Referendum

This article was originally published on the FutureLearn blog.

Please read the comments policy before commenting.


How to cite this article:

Salamone, A (2016) ‘Five Things You Need to Know About Brexit’, Britain’s Europe (Ideas on Europe), 24 May 2016,

One Response to Five Things You Need to Know About Brexit

  1. avatar elizabeth ann darroch says:

    Britain has been weakened,wrong decisions have been made over the years by parliament,the only way britain can be great again,would be for the british public to unite,we are divided,we need to stand together,we need to start our industry again, and that is the truth.

UACES and Ideas on Europe do not take responsibility for opinions expressed in articles on blogs hosted on Ideas on Europe. All opinions are those of the contributing authors.